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TX-041 Cadets Develop Hands-on STEM Skills

February 16, 2020

Once again, Flight Officer Harrison Wissel-Littmann, presented a fun and interactive aerospace education lesson to the cadets of Civil Air Patrol George H W Bush Squadron TX-041. On Tuesday evening, February 11, 2020, FO Wissel-Littmann helped cadets understand gravity, through a fun combination of lectures and hands-on activities.

The lessons included discussions on how gravity bends light; how the brilliant ladies, portrayed in the movie “Hidden Figures”, at NASA formulated the mathematics (without the aid of computers!) that would use the dynamics of gravity to “slingshot” a spacecraft to the moon and back; how gravity is formulated mathematically; how, in theory, “black holes” are so dense that their gravitational pull swallows everything around them; and brainstormed with cadets how the einsteinium theory of gravity and relativity could be manipulated.

In one activity, cadets used a laptop computer to create orbits, in order to simulate the effects of gravity on celestial bodies. An “in browser” activity (https://lab.nstmf.org/gravity) helped show how the density of a large mass, such as our sun, controls the orbits of smaller planets, stars, etc. The orbits, as created on the laptop by each of the cadets, were reflected on the large TV screen, for all to see.

In another activity, the cadets enjoyed demonstrating how planets are formed. The experiment used a stretchy fabric that was mounted onto a circular frame, the kind used for embroidery. The fabric was meant to represent space itself. A small cluster of ball bearings were dropped onto the fabric. Then, smaller ball bearings were dropped onto the fabric and were observed rolling around the cluster, until they were in contact with the larger ball bearing in the center.

Aerospace education classes are routinely scheduled for the second Tuesday in each month, and are always fun and interesting. Flight Officer Wissel-Littmann is always a great teacher. Thank you for making even the topic of “gravity” fun to learn about!

For More Information:

1st Lt Laura Simpson, CAP
TX-041 Public Affairs

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